"‘I Love Your Work :’Procedurality and Weak Narrative in Interactive Documentary Film"

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"‘I Love Your Work :’Procedurality and Weak Narrative in Interactive Documentary Film"

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Publication Conference other
Title "‘I Love Your Work :’Procedurality and Weak Narrative in Interactive Documentary Film"
Author Engberg, Maria
Date 2016
English abstract
This paper analyzes the dual aesthetics of procedurality and narrativity in interactive documentaries. Arguing against Lev Manovich’s notion that database as symbolic form precludes narrative (1998), the paper explores the particularities of the interface and the structure of story elements in interactive documentaries. Digital hybrid objects such as interactive documentaries embed within their aesthetic and interactional construction many forms of aesthetic, cultural, and narrativized organizations and influences that a medium-centric understanding of digital media fails to capture. The paper focuses on an analysis of Jonathan Harris’s “I Love Your Work” (2013), asking the question: what kind of stories does Harris’s experimentation produce? The work relies on a procedural logic in its process of production (Harris took ten seconds of video every five minutes for ten days). There is also an aesthetics of procedurality and seriality evident in its interface aesthetics, which Harris calls a “tapestry,” that structures the documentary in 10 second increments available to the viewer through the online interface. The paper argues that the database as structure and procedurality as aesthetic process do not preclude narrative arcs with beginnings and ends; these arcs just look different. "I Love Your Work" and similar projects challenge the simplification of database structures as minimizing story, calling us to include in our analyses interface design, computational algorithms, and multimodality as part of narrative structures and paratexts. I argue—analogously to the classic statement in computer science: algorithms + data structures equals programs (Wirth 1975)—that procedural digital interfaces that rely on database structures, recombinatory interactive choices for the reader, and minimal narrative units can create serial narratives. Building on Brian McHale’s spectrum of narrativity with oscillating states between “trip” and “mission” (2011), I suggest that the trajectories of procedural watching that occur in “I Love Your Work” produce weak narratives that invoke the episodic and the picaresque. The interactive documentary thus serves as an example of how various instances of narrativity occur in digital forms and the paper shows how the confluence of reactive interfaces and malleable computational media along with shifting reader and author positions generate potentialities for the documentary form along a spectrum of weak and strong narrativity.
Conference
Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference (March 30-April 3, 2016 : Atlanta, United States)
Language eng (iso)
Subject interactive documentary
cinema
digital media
aesthetics
narrativity
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH AREAS
Note Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the main organization for schola... (see Details for more)
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/21488 Permalink to this page
Link http://www.cmstudies.org/?page=past_conferences... (external link to related web page)
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